The rate of marriage for girls aged between 15 and 18 years is still high at 38 per cent in Bangladesh though under-15 marriage fell significantly over the past two decades, according to a recent research.
The rate of marriage for girls aged between 15 and 18 years remained highest in Barisal division with 46.9 per cent during 2006-2015, followed by Khulna with 43.4 per cent and Rangpur with 42.2 per cent, according to the research conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
The rate was 49.2 per cent in Barisal, 46.1 per cent in Khulna and 48 per cent in Rangpur during the period of 1996-2005.
The research was based on IFPRI's 2015 nationally representative household survey data to provide an overview of the state of early marriage in rural Bangladesh.
It was prepared upon request of the Governance Innovation Unit of the Prime Minister's Office.
It also explored ways to reduce the incidence of early child marriage in the country as a conduit for development progress.
The IFPRI, founded in 1975, is an independent nonprofit international research organisation and one of 15 international institutes of Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
The research showed that the rate of early marriage for girls was 39.3 per cent in Chittagong, 38.7 per cent in Rajshahi, 37.5 per cent in Dhaka and 25.7 per cent in Sylhet during the 2006-2015 period.
The rate was 49.7 per cent in Chittagong, 47.5 per cent in Rajshahi, 47.2 per cent in Dhaka and 36.8 per cent in Sylhet respectively during the 1996-2005 period.
"Adolescent girls marry early due to social and other pressures. A massive social campaign to increase the age of marriage for girls may change behaviours," the research said.
The government recently approved a draft law fixing 18 years as the minimum age for girls to get married, but kept a provision for special circumstances under which girls below the age would be able to tie the knot.
Men of 21-year-old and above could get married and, if either the groom or the bride or both are below 21 and 18, it would be considered a child marriage and an offence, according to the draft law approved by the cabinet.